Brutalism is not great for looking relatable

Last time I wrote about how brutalism is the only design movement in which personal websites play an important role. Brutalist architecture, however, is mostly the opposite of personal. It’s famous for its large, uncomfortable and rough looking structures, created with, for and by big capital. I should have realized earlier that a design style with that background isn’t great inspiration when I want a website that shows the relatable human person that I’d like to present myself as.

I identified three types of brutalist web design. One of them was mainly about unstyled HTML. That seems to be closest to the original brutalism, which exposes raw concrete, glass and unpainted steel. Except, I realize now, on the web it’s different. The thing we’re used to seeing in a browser, is a web browser’s interpretation of HTML, rather than (sidenote: Press CTRL+U on Windows or CMD+U on a Mac to see real unstyled HTML. ) . So all rendered websites are styled websites. There is no brutalism avant la lettre on the web.

Alright, you could argue, then brutalism is about keeping the styling to a minimum. Be it for aesthetic reasons, performance reasons or because you just don’t know any better. The first two reasons are conscious design choices for which minimalism would be a better description. So I was wrong calling such websites brutalist.

As for the third reason to minimize styling: lack of design can’t make a design movement. It would be a non-design movement at most. Taking that a step further: design styles and movements can only emerge from the activity of design. Designers make styles and movements (regardless of them being being part of that). My assumption is that those who design personal websites, also (sidenote: Design is done by all kinds of professionals, not just designers. ) for a living. So, with GeoCities long gone, a personal, non-commercial approach to web design won’t likely emerge (again). I hope I’m wrong though.

To get back to minimalism: that’s used a lot in marketing, including premium and luxury branding. Making a simple design is hard, after all. Looking for a style for a personal website that looks human, relatable and not like a company, minimalism can’t be it.

I started thinking about all this because I didn’t want my redesigned website to look like a company website. I thought that would be dishonest, like pretending that I wear a business suit in my free time. I changed my mind though. Trying to find a personal, humane style in web design that exists separate from the trends of corporate branding may have been an impossible quest to begin with. The analogy with clothing was wrong too. We’re talking about shaping HYPER TEXT MARKUP LANGUAGE! Nothing personal about that! Anything that does not look like cold, sterile cyberspace has to get loads of styling. And that would have little to do with brutalism.

Anyway, since a week or so this site has some styling again. It’s not spectacular. I will keep looking for inspiration. In the meantime, at least here’s something with legible text in (what in my opinion are) great fonts.